March 24, 2009

Hundreds of NPRs: Dem Senator Introduces ‘Newspaper Revitalization Act’

CardinUSsenOfMD0309.jpgI said earlier this year (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) that there was reason to believe that 2009 might be the year of the newspaper bailout.

Now one of Maryland’s two Democratic US senators thinks he has come up with a way to subsidize and save them — while simultaneously turning them into house organs for his party.

Ben Cardin (picture at right is from his Senate web site) has introduced “The Newspaper Revitalization Act,” would accomplish the just-described goals by allowing papers to convert themselves into not-for-profit entities, providing them tax breaks, and …. prohibiting editorials.

Those who know establishment media reporting know that editorial commentary will then become the sole province of left-leaning beat reporters pretending to be strictly fact-based in their supposedly straight news stories and “analyses,” while traditional newspaper editorials, which against all odds still seem to lean barely to the right when averaged out nationwide, will disappear.

Here’s how Thomas Ferraro of Reuters describes what Cardin has cooked up:

With many U.S. newspapers struggling to survive, a Democratic senator on Tuesday introduced a bill to help them by allowing newspaper companies to restructure as nonprofits with a variety of tax breaks.

“This may not be the optimal choice for some major newspapers or corporate media chains but it should be an option for many newspapers that are struggling to stay afloat,” said Senator Benjamin Cardin.

A Cardin spokesman said the bill had yet to attract any co-sponsors, but had sparked plenty of interest within the media, which has seen plunging revenues and many journalist layoffs.

Cardin’s Newspaper Revitalization Act would allow newspapers to operate as nonprofits for educational purposes under the U.S. tax code, giving them a similar status to public broadcasting companies.

Under this arrangement, newspapers would still be free to report on all issues, including political campaigns. But they would be prohibited from making political endorsements.

Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax exempt, and contributions to support news coverage or operations could be tax deductible.

In the short run, Cardin’s bill would give well-to-do Democratic activists, perhaps including many of the “private investors” Tim Geithner is looking at to buy up “toxic assets,” a chance to fund the newspaper of their choice and turn it into a pet project for subtly and not so subtly promulgating their worldview. How about the New York MoveOn Times, or the Washington ACORN Post?

Over a longer period, it seems to me that what would develop out of this would be any number of single-city NPRs that would attempt to control the tone of, and access to, political coverage in their respective locales. They would give perfunctory lip service to token print operations, while having large and unfair cost advantages over their taxpaying for-profit competitors.

Readers might have other ideas as to what might come to pass if Cardin gets his way. So have at it, with this priceless exit excerpt, which happens to be the opening sentence of Editor & Publisher’s coverage of the story:

Newspapers perform a public service for democracy and should be allowed to operate as tax-exempt non-profits, U.S. Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D.-Md., proposed Tuesday.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: Michelle Malkin, who predicted this development many months ago, calls Cardin’s bill “The Fishwrap Rescue and Recovery Act of 2009.”

UPDATE 2, March 25: Newsosaur thinks it won’t fly (HT commenter dscott) –

A conservatively managed endowment of no less than $1 billion would have to be raised to generate the 5% annual return necessary to cover a $50-million-a-year burn rate. What are the chances of that happening?

Great point, given that the burns at the Boston Globe and the San Francisco Chronicle, to name two, are at least that much. Also particularly timely, given the damage to equity values resulting from the POR (Pelosi-Obama- Reid Economy/POR Recession.

The papers could I suppose hold perpetual fundraisers, get on the high net-worth wine and cheese circuit, beat up on chambers of commerce for support, and the like. But a key to all of this would be walking away from their debts as they emerge from private ownership. In a lot of cases, sans bankruptcy, that will not be easy, and (one would think) might leave a lasting, bitter community legacy.

Lucid Links (032409, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:10 am

Noteworthy Net-Worthies:

50-50? I believe that was before any impact of President ‘Prompter’s alleged punch-drunkenness could be measured.

Former DNC Chair Howard Dean has been hired by CNBC — To be Rick Santelli’s and Jim Cramer’s minder, perhaps?

Obama’s judicial nominee (HT the Other McCain) for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, John F. Hamilton, is a former ACORN fundraiser. Hamilton, in a ruling overturned on appeal, barred prayers that mention Jesus Christ from opening daily sessions of the Indiana House of Representatives. He’s so far-left we don’t even have to ask if he’s pro-abort, do we, prolife poseurs and Obama endorsers Steve Driehaus and John Boccieri?

George Will — “The Toxic Assets We Elected.” Great column, as he chronicles much, but nowhere near all, of the “lawlessness, situational constitutionalism and institutional derangement” in the Obama administration thus far. What we elected also has created trillions in liabilities.

Of all the targeted campaigns against supposedly evil capitalistic excess, the idea of banning “luxury” corporate travel by recipients of federal bailout funds is among the worst. It has sent a chill throughout the entire corporate world, as, bailed-out or not, no one wants to be seen as the next target of the Overindulgence Police. It has thus sent the travel industry and related services (catering, etc.) into a serious tailspin well beyond what other industries are experiencing in this downturn. That’s quite a contrast from the post-9/11 mindset, where the Bush administration virtually begged people to travel and not “let the terrorists win” (eventually, it worked). The hypocrisy is hard to swallow too, from Nancy Pelosi’s military aircraft antics to senators of both parties leaving town for meetings on the Florida coast. Another element of hypocrisy: the alleged champions of the little guy apparently don’t care that a lot of little guys at hotels and resorts are losing their jobs because of their posturing.

The Toledo Blade, in an editorial, tells us that the one thing financially strapped Michigan needs more than anything else right now is a graduated income tax with a top rate of 7.9%. Well, states to which former Michiganders continue to flee would surely be pleased.

“U.S. Seeks Expanded Power to Seize Firms” — Yeah, because the federal government doesn’t have enough power already. Oh, and Tax Cheat and Proven Liar (under oath?) Tim Geithner is in charge of it. Feel better now?

Classless: As 14 Die, Including 7 Young Children, AP Reporters Engage in Class Warfare

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 8:59 am

Note: This item was posted earlier today, and will remain at the top for the rest of the day.

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Here’s how the Associated Press’s Matthew Brown chose to open his organization’s initial story (HT Michelle Malkin) on the Montana plane crash where 14 people died, including seven young children, their parents, and the pilot:

APmontanaCrashReport1on032309

Because, y’know, the victims’ presumed “ultrarich” socioeconomic status was sooooo important.

Incredibly, Brown’s report was not an isolated incident, as the AP played the class card at least two additional times. The first came almost three hours later, as seen in this item carried at TMC.net, as more information about the nature of the crash came out:

APmontanaCrashReport2on032309

Finally, in a much longer dispatch about six hours after Brown’s initial report, AP reporters Matt Gouras and Joan Lowy stuck with the theme in their third paragraph:

APmontanaCrashReport3on032309

Here is a photo of the Jacobsens (found at this link), one of the families who perished:

APmontanaCrashJacobsens032309

May God be with them and all who died, and may He provide strength to their surviving relatives and friends.

I’ll let commenters elaborate, lest I engage in language I’ll regret later.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Coronation complete — Mackey wins Iditarod 37

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

From Alaska:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In the span of two years and three Iditarods, Lance Mackey has gone from miracle worker to the undisputed reigning king of The Last Great Race.

Mackey won his third consecutive Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, putting an exclamation point on mushing’s latest dynasty.

Only two other mushers have won three in a row — Susan Butcher from 1986-88 and Doug Swingley 1999-2001. No one has won four straight.

“I’m so proud to get through this,” Mackey said. “This one was really, really smooth. I’ve never had a team work like this as a whole, come together in every situation. In every situation they seemed to excel.”

Mackey finished at 11:38 a.m. with an official time of 9 days, 21 hours, 38 minutes, 46 seconds. He still had 15 dogs in harness, dropping only one along the 1,000-mile trail.

“I feel great, but I feel beat up a little bit,” he said. “It was a pretty demanding trail since about Anvik.”

Gov. Sarah Palin called to congratulate Mackey shortly after he pulled in under Nome’s burled arch.

“We are considering this team the greatest in Iditarod history,” Palin said. “You continue to give all of us hope. The adversity you have overcome, the challenges you have met — believe me, it resonates across our nation and across our world.”

For Mackey — a cancer survivor who came to prominence with an unprecedented double-double in the Yukon Quest and Iditarod in 2007 called the Mackey Miracle — Wednesday’s victory capped a dominating performance. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.